Obstructed View – Reflections on the Man Utd (H) Game

Ian Wright on 606 had a point to make, and make it he did. Why haven’t Everton played like that all season? Well, that’s a question we all might ask, but rather than wallow in the negativity implied in his question, we should at least, for now, glory in a famous victory. A victory that was no fluke, but hard graft, clever tactics, and some much needed astute finishing won the day, and if Sir Philip Carter was watching from up on high, he may have had a wry smile to himself. Who knows, he may even have influenced the result.

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There were a few rarities today beyond our heaviest defeat of United in over 30 years. First, I managed to avoid the dog pooh that seems to lurk at every step around Gwladys St and in particular by the school. Second, McCarthy gets in to the box within 5 minutes and doubles his tally for the season. Then YJS gets his first ever ‘proper’ goal for Everton, and what’s more it’s from a corner (UG Row L, Seat 163, you know who you are – “We never score from a corner, I can’t remember that last time we scored from a corner…….YEEEEEESSSSSS!). And then Mirallas scores as deftly as, well, Naismith when one on one, and peels away making a heart sign to I’m not sure who. Bill? Roberto? Van Gaal? Time will tell perhaps.

What was not a rarity, but now an increasingly common sight, was another clean sheet, and this against a resurgent United who, apart from a little slip up against Recently Boring Chelsea (PS I’d like to be boring and win the League please), have been scoring and outwitting opponents for fun these last few months. It didn’t quite warrant LVG’s “we could have won the League if we hadn’t had such a poor start to the season”, because that only elicits the response that if my Aunt had testicles, she’d be my Uncle. But suffice to say, that if you’d told me before the game that after 88 minutes there’s be people heading for the exits with the score at 3-0, I wouldn’t have expected the score to be in Everton’s favour.

But apart from a Red Sea moment just after our first goal, when the defence parted in front of a latter day Moses, or Fellaini as he’s called these days, who should have buried his clear and unobstructed chance, and Howard’s only necessary save from Rooney, the defence was untroubled by this much-vaunted United team. Frankly they looked toothless up top, and what Falcao and Van Persie must be thinking sat on the bench, one can only imagine. Mata had an off day, Herrera looked clueless with Barry or McCarthy crawling all over him (or both), and only McNair with the ball at his feet driving in to the Everton half all too frequently provided any really noticeable threat. Instead, the Blues let United have the ball for 65% of an enthralling game, and the 17 shots that United had to our 9 really don’t tell the story. Shoot from range if you want to, but today, our defence was not for breaking. Perhaps Mr Wright has a point. After the calamity of the 3-6 reverse to Not Very Boring But Actually Incredibly Good Chelsea, it seemed to take an age for our defence to calm down, not helped by injuries to key players, and not helped by the unsettling Alcaraz effect, which actually sounds more like a South American political intrigue rather than a will-he-won’t-he-cock-it-up moment or two. It’s taken, actually until the calamity Mk2 against Kiev, when any ball hopefully lobbed in to our box looked like a gilt-edged chance, before we’ve looked settled at the back, since we’ve moved 4-1-4-1 when the situation dictates, and and a return to fine form of the much maligned Barry (not be me or universally I have to say).

Barry’s partnership with McCarthy today was outstanding, and showed what we now know to be “incredible intensity”, especially as Jimbo is now asked to play slightly further forward (and even score for God’s sake). Barry has thrived on the singular responsibility I think, knowing it’s him and only him providing the main screen to the equally impressive back 4. Stones is amazing (check his birth certificate someone) and Jags loves playing alongside him. Seamus has recovered his buzz and his bite in the tackle, and now Baines appears to be able to take a corner. Not content with an assist for Stones, the previous two beat the first man. A corner a little later also beat the first man….and the last one as it sailed out of the box the other side, but at least we’re making defences work now – must be something to do with the extra bit of artificial pitch he can use for his run up.

Lots of heroes today, but let’s avoid the talk as if we’ve burgled a 1-0 in the Cup. We’ve just won 3-0, LVG said we deserved to win, and by God we did. And as for Wrighty, yes mate you have a point, we all know that, but another day mate, eh?

Ross Crombie

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